Winter is here and so are the colds and flus. We are having a lovely dose of one at the moment! I have been asked recently what I do for the kids when they get sick, and to boost their immune system during winter. These are some of my most used remedies and tips: 1. Rest and adequate sleep - it's tempting to continue taking the kids to all their activities, but they really need good rest. During sleep is when most of the healing occurs. A couple of days at home is better than weeks of a lingering cold and cough.
2. Great Nutrition - getting good food into kids when they are sick can be a challenge, to help with this I make soups packed with protein (lentils, beans,chicken, lamb etc), vegetables and bone broth. It is healing for the gut with essential minerals for the immune system. The old remedy of chicken soup when you're sick does work. I make my own broth, its very easy with a slow cooker, or you can purchase organic bone stock from Broth of Life (pictured) on line.
Cut out the sugars (especially the fruit juice with very little fruit in it!) It just feeds the infections and depresses the immune system. Processed food is not beneficial when sick.
A healthy filling breakfast is also important for kids especially when their immune system is low. Scrambled eggs on toast is a quick and easy breakfast. Overnight oats with chia seeds, honey and almond milk. Soaked bircher muesli and greek yoghurt, fruit and green vegetable smoothies are a few examples.
Filling healthy snacks are essential all the time, but even more when you are building the immune system. Nuts and seeds (provided there are no allergies) whole fruits and vegetables chopped up. A boiled egg with Himalayan salt. Roasted chickpeas, air popped popcorn with coconut oil and Himalayan salt. These are all quick snacks that have no sugar and will be filling for kids.
3. Increasing garlic, onions and leeks in meals. They are antibacterial and antiviral. Garlic infused raw honey is a good remedy for soothing throats andcoughs. Chop up 2-3 cloves of garlic and cover with unprocessed honey and leave to infuse. It doesn't taste too bad. You can do the same with garlic infused olive oil for earaches. Crush fresh garlic and cover with olive oil, leave for a few hours (or longer) to infuse, warm slightly before pouring into the ear. Only use if the ear drum is not perforated.
5. Probiotcs - 70% of our immune system is in the gut so it makes sense to keep it healthy. Look for one containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis with 5-20 billion CFU.
6. Vitamins A, E, C and Zinc - It would be great to get all these from the diet, however if you have a picky eater, you may need to find way to boost these nutrients. Superfoods for Kidz has a fantastic range of powders that can be easily added to the kids food. I use them all the time for my two, especially in smoothies. They also have a great range of protein powders suitable for kids.
7. Adequate omega-3 oils - They are good for the brain, eye, and immune health. I give the kids fish oil in summer and cod-liver oil in winter for the additional Vitamins A and D. Avocado and linseeds are also good to add for omega-3 fats.
8. Reduce stress - lowering cortisol and adrenalin is important for good immune function. We all know that we get sick under times of duress. Maggie Dent has lots of great tips for dealing with stress, from young kids through to teenagers. Chilling out is sometimes needed when life is too busy.
9. Vitamin D - get out in the sunshine. We need adequate vitamin D for bone and immune health. A lack of this in winter may be one of the reasons we get recurring colds. Oily fish such as salmon or tuna are a source, also eggs and shiitake mushrooms.
10. Herbs - there are a number of herbs that kids can take to help with their immune system. Echinacea, olive leaf extract, astragalus and eyebright are all traditionally used to treat coughs and colds. Echinacea during a cold and astragalus for immune boosting. There are numerous products available, both practitioner and from the health food store. Check dosage and the suitability of the herb before giving to the kids.
Blueberry Surprise Smoothie
The sweetness of the blueberries, banana and honey mask the taste and the colour of the spinach. The coconut oil and water contain lauric acid which is beneficial for the immune system and can increase a feeling of fullness. The linseed are full of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids as are the chia seeds. The bee pollen is an immune booster, it also adds sweetness to the smoothie without the sugar. I often give this to my kids at school pick up. It makes the car ride home a lot calmer!
- 1 cup full fat milk (or milk alternative e.g. almond milk, rice milk)
- 1/2 cup coconut water
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 frozen banana
- 1/2 cup frozen organic blueberries
- Small handful of spinach or kale leaves
- tsp raw unprocessed honey
- 1 serve protein powder
- 2 tsp linseeds or chia seeds
- 2 tsp Superfoods for C Berry Blast powder
- 1 tsp bee pollen (if no allergies)
- Place all ingredients into a high powered blender until well mixed.